Detailing the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA's Most-Balanced Starting Lineup
There was debate early in the preseason as to whether or not the new-look Brooklyn Nets were the deepest team in the league. That debate has yet to be resolved, but there's absolutely no denying the fact that the Nets have the most-balanced starting lineup in the NBA.
This assertion doesn't take into account individual players or accolades, nor does it consider how big the names of the players are.
It only looks at how well these five players interact together on the court.
Each part of the Nets' starting five complements the others perfectly, forming the most cohesive starting unit in the league.
From perimeter scorers to interior presences, the Nets' starting five is as close to perfectly assembled as it can get.
Point Guard: Deron Williams
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Deron Williams is the unquestioned leader of the Nets, and that's something he proves night in and night out.
He is the team's No. 1 option on offense. He can shoot it from three (35 percent for his career) and pretty much from anywhere else inside the arc (46 percent on his career).
What makes Williams truly unique as a leader on offense is that he also looks to set up his teammates on each and every possession.
Even though he has scored 17.6 points per game during his career, he has also dished out 9.2 assists.
The fact that he's averaged nearly a double-double over his career shows that he trusts his teammates, even if they aren't necessarily the most reliable options.
His teammates project to be extremely reliable this season, so there's plenty of reason to believe that Williams is in for a career year.
Role: Floor General, No. 1 Scorer, Leader
Shooting Guard: Joe Johnson
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Joe Johnson, the biggest acquisition of the offseason by general manager Billy King, plays a role on the Nets that hasn't been filled since the departures of Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson several years ago.
While Jason Kidd wasn't the scorer that Williams is, he was the unquestioned floor general. He had options like Carter and Jefferson to turn to every time down the court.
Williams has yet to have that in his year-and-a-half tenure with the Nets. With Johnson now in the fold, Williams has a guy he can always turn to.
Johnson is one of the more underrated scorers in the game, averaging 17.8 points per game over his career. He is lights out from three (37 percent career shooter) and has scored over 20 points per game in five separate seasons (2005-2010 with the Atlanta Hawks).
This is also Johnson's 12th season in the NBA, so there's no denying his experience and ability to handle the pressures of a late-game situation.
Last season with the Hawks, Johnson was extremely clutch. In the last five minutes of games, Johnson's shooting percentage increased six points (43 to 49) and his usage on offense increased from 27 percent to 37 percent.
While the Hawks are, of course, a different team, the Nets know that they have a clutch player when they need one in Johnson.
Role: Second-in-Command, Sharp Shooter, Clutch Performer
Small Forward: Gerald Wallace
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It may seem like a stretch to say this now, but I believe that Gerald Wallace will be one of the keys to the success of the Nets this season.
On a team that isn't necessarily known for its defense—four of the starting five are either average or slightly above—Wallace stands out on that end of the floor.
In 2010, Wallace was on the NBA All-Defensive First Team. In 2005-06 he led the NBA in steals per game (2.5). He also placed third in the league in defensive rating (99.7) in 2009-10.
What sets Wallace apart from other strong defenders at the small forward position is his ability to rebound. On a team that lacks a stud rebounder at center, Wallace's contributions here are key.
His career high in rebounding came in 2009-10 with the Charlotte Bobcats, when he grabbed 10.0 per game. He has averaged 6.3 per game over his career.
Wallace is not all defense, though. While he may not be asked to score a lot, he is very capable of scoring efficiently.
He has shot 47 percent for his career, posting a 13.5 points per game average.
Role: Defensive Leader, Efficient Fourth or Fifth Option, Key to Success
Power Forward: Kris Humphries
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Wallace's contributions in the rebounding category are not enough to make up for the lack of rebounding from center Brook Lopez.
Kris Humphries excels at grabbing rebounds and boxing out opponents in the paint, making him very important to the team's success in 2012-13.
Last season, Humphries finished fifth in the NBA in rebounding (11.3), averaging nearly four offensive rebounds per game.
The Nets will definitely be firing up a high number of shots with their offensively dynamic backcourt, and Humphries' ability to hit the offensive boards will help the Nets pile up second-chance points.
Humphries was also a member of the NBA's elite big men last season. While not a center, he was one of only three players (along with Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum) to score at least 13 points per game, grab 11 rebounds per game and shoot at least 48 percent from the floor.
Humphries may not be as dominant as Howard or Bynum—he is clearly not the focal point of the offensive attack in Brooklyn—but his presence is certainly felt in nearly every aspect of the game.
His consistent approach and performance will make him an unsung hero of the Nets this season.
Role: No. 1 Rebounder, Mr. Consistency, Efficient Fourth or Fifth Option
Center: Brook Lopez
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Yeah, so Brook Lopez isn't the best rebounder or defender. That doesn't make him a useless member of the Nets' starting five.
Lopez is actually one of the most important contributors, in my opinion.
The Nets backcourt will do a ton of scoring this season. Williams and Johnson will both take their fair share of shots, a high percentage of which are sure to fall.
On the rare nights when their shots are not falling, though, who will do the scoring?
Lopez is a well-above-average offensive center, who's averaged 17.5 points per game over the course of his career. He is also efficient, putting the ball in the basket at a 50 percent clip. He's also not one of those centers who is shaky from the charity stripe, shooting 80 percent from the free-throw line in five seasons.
His post moves are tremendous, and the fact that he's 7'0" tall clearly works to his advantage.
Having a one-dimensional offense is not conducive to success, so Lopez's inside game is essential to the Nets season.
Whatever defense he provides will be a bonus, as his main role on the team this season is scoring in the paint.
Role: Post Presence, Offensive Balancer